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In Merlin: The Complete Third Season, Merlin (Colin Morgan) is back with even more magic, adventure and romance as the young wizard struggles to protect Prince Arthur (Bradley James) in the perilous world of Camelot. While battling deadly assassins, mystical monsters and the most powerful sorcerers Camelot has ever seen, Merlin must work harder than ever to conceal his unique abilities while King Uther (Anthony Head) redoubles his war against magic.

 Merlin - The Complete Third Season
Season 3 picks up about a year after the end of a second season which ended with Morgana disappearing and Merlin putting a stop to The Great Dragon completely destroying Camelot through his new found Dragonlord powers. Morgana returns to a distraught Uther and even seems to have forgiven Merlin over events of the previous season, but all is not what it seems. Determined more than ever to take the throne from Uther, she once again plots with Morgause towards the demise of Camelot. Meanwhile Arthur and Gwen's romance starts to ramp up, while Lancelot returns with other knights that look to become part of the kingdom.

There's very few television shows that my entire family will gather around to watch and usually we're each secluded to separate rooms viewing our own programs, but Merlin is one of the few exceptions. Like other programs airing on BBC America such as Doctor Who and Primeval, all three of us have enjoyed our time with the series since we started viewing it via Netflix some time ago. The third season is a bit more self-assured than those previous, and I welcomed the slightly darker tone that the series takes throughout the course of this 13-episode run. Knowing the basics of the Arthur legend one can't help feel that the stakes for each character are growing and one day soon it'll all come to a head, but so far the journey has been entertaining. There are however some respites from the more serious episodes throughout, such as the third episode of the season "Goblin's Gold", and these more humorous episodes offer a nice change of pace that keep things from getting stale or too bogged down in the overall arc of the season. I'm still reminded of the basic similarities to Smallville whenever I watch Merlin, but thankfully the show hasn't taken a turn for the worse like Clark Kent's tales did after the third or fourth season.

 Merlin - The Complete Third Season
Video
BBC Home Video's 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers are decent enough but will still leave you wishing for a high definition release. The warm and dark color palette is pleasing, there's consistently strong detail throughout and I found it difficult to notice any sort of compression artifacts, macroblocking or other glaring problems with the transfers that would detract from the enjoyment of watching the series. Overall I'd say this is pretty standard fare for a television series presented on DVD.

 Merlin - The Complete Third Season
Audio
In somewhat of a throwback, the set's lone available audio option is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track that is serviceable in bringing the show's soundscape to life. Merlin doesn't rely on a lot of directional effects, but dialogue is almost always clear and crisp with some of the show's busier moments being an exception. As far as audio presentations go it's not the best, but it easily gets the job done.

 Merlin - The Complete Third Season
Extras
The five-disc set features audio commentaries with cast and crew on four episodes--"The Tears of Uther Pendragon" with actors Katie McGrath and Bradley James, "Goblin's Gold" with actors Angel Coulby and Richard Wilson, "Queen of Herts" with series producer Johnny Capps and actor Anthony Head (Uther) and “The Coming of Arthur, Part 2″ with series producer Julian Murphy and director Jeremy Webb. There are some lulls here and there in each of the tracks, but there's also quite a bit of good information to be had as well, especially on the "Queen of Hearts" track. Th fifth disc of the set is totally dedicated to extras and includes two featurettes, "Making of Merlin Season 3 (23:50) and "Merlin Season 3: Comic-Com San Diego" (39:20) which finds the series creators Johhny Capps and Julian Murphy and actors Colin Morgan and Anthony Head addressing convention goers. Also included are nearly a half an hour of deleted scenes presumably cut to time purposes and five minutes of outtakes from the series. The rest of the features are rounded out by a photo gallery and wallpapers for those accessing the disc via DVD-ROM.

 Merlin - The Complete Third Season
Overall
Overall Merlin: The Complete Third Season is totally enjoyable and continues in the traditional of quality family entertainment set forth by the previous seasons, but those new to the series will definitely want to start at the beginning. On the technical front BBC Home Video's presentation of the series on DVD features good video and audio with a nice batch of extras for fans, and taken as a whole with the excellent series this set's a winner.

Clips
Camelot Has Welcomed Back Its Daughter
Get Out of My Way
A Faerie at the Heart of Camelot


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